A False Laughter

Look at people’s faces. They carry life as a burden — boring, with no meaning. It seems that everything is just a nightmare, a very cruel joke, that somebody is playing a trick, torturing them. Life is not a celebration, it cannot be. With a mind burdened by memory life cannot be a celebration. Even if you laugh, your laughter carries boredom. Look at people laughing: they laugh with an effort. Their laugh may be just to be mannerly, their laugh may be just etiquette.

I have heard about one dignitary who went to Africa to visit a community, a very old, primitive community of aborigines. He gave a long lecture. He told a very long anecdote — for almost half an hour the anecdote continued — then the interpreter stood up. He spoke only four words and the primitives laughed heartily.

The dignitary was puzzled. He had been telling the anecdote for half an hour, how could it be translated in four words? It seemed impossible. And people understood; they were laughing, a belly laugh.

Puzzled, he said to the interpreter, “You have done a miracle. You have spoken only four words. I don’t know what you said but how can you translate my story, which was so long, into only four words?”

The interpreter said, “Story too long, so I say, ‘He says joke — laugh.’ “

What type of laughter will come out? Just mannerly etiquette will come out, and this man has been laboring for half an hour. Look at people’s laughter. It is a mental thing, they are making an effort; their laughter is false.

Osho – “A Bird on the Wing”

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